The River Bluff and White Knoll baseball teams look to carry their strong starts over into Spring Break tournaments this week.
The Gators are in the Forest Acres Classic, which begins Tuesday at A.C. Flora. White Knoll is taking part at the South Carolina Diamond Invitational at Blythewood High School. The tournament begins Thursday and goes through Sunday.
“This is our time of the year when you want to be playing your best and this is state playoff type of bracket,” White Knoll coach Charles Assey said of the South Carolina Diamond Invitational. “I want to keep getting better and this week definitely will test us.”
The SCDI features a strong field with six of the eight teams ranked in the late South Carolina Baseball Coaches polls, including top-ranked Carolina Forest (4A) and Belton-Honea Path (3A).
At 13-0, White Knoll is one of two unbeaten teams left in the Midlands and moved up to No. 4 in the latest South Carolina Baseball Coaches polls. The Timberwolves began the year by winning their RBI Invitational and nearly have eclipsed last season’s win total of 16.
White Knoll features a veteran group of 12 seniors, six of which have signed or committed to play college baseball.
Assey said the strength of this year’s team is its pitching and defense. The Timberwolves enter with the week with a team ERA of 1.48 and Steven Estep is tied for the Midlands lead with four wins and Ryan Harbin is next with three. Both Harbin and Estep are in the top five in the Midlands in strikeouts.
“I wouldn’t have guessed this start but I’m tickled pink and ecstatic,” Assey said. “I think we are one in offseason, five days a week and six days during the season. So, when you put time into it, you can enjoy success along the way. But any day it can change and any moment can change.”
River Bluff is 11-2 and ranked No. 7 in Class 4A. The Gators are tied with the Timberwolves for the Region 5-4A lead with the two teams facing April 12 and 15.
Liberty signee Brandon Tillmon has been the player in the Midlands for the first half of the season and leads the area with four homers and 27 RBI to go along with his .487 average. He also is tied with Ryan Reynolds for team lead in victories with three.
Third baseman Aaron Adams, a College of Charleston commit, is hitting over .400 and is second on the team with 18 RBI.
River Bluff is one of five South Carolina teams in the Forest Acres Classic, which includes host A.C. Flora. The out-of-state teams are Leesville Road (N.C.), Hanover (Va.) and Dematha Catholic (Md.).
The two tournaments are part of five in all taking place in the Midlands this week. The Bojangles’ Invitational at Airport High School and Sandlapper Classic began over the weekend while the Kershaw Richland Classic began at two sites Monday.
Forest Acres Classic
At A.C. Flora
All games streamed online at foxsportsradio1400.iheart.com with 6:30 p.m. games on 1400 AM
Dutch Fork vs. Lakewood, 9:30 a.m.
Leesville Road vs. Sumter, 12:30 p.m.
River Bluff vs. Hanover, 3:30 p.m.
Dematha Catholic vs. A.C. Flora, 6:30 p.m.
Lakewood vs. River Bluff, 9:30 a.m.
Hanover vs. Dutch Fork, 12:30 p.m.
Sumter vs. Dematha Catholic, 3:30 p.m.
A.C. Flora vs. Leesville Road, 6:30 p.m.
Hanover vs. Lakewood, 9:30 a.m.
Dematha Catholic vs. Leesville Road, 12:30 p.m.
Dutch Fork vs. River Bluff, 3:30 p.m.
A.C. Flora vs. Sumter, 6:30 p.m.
Fourth-place Bracket A vs. Fourth-place Bracket B, 9:30 a.m.
Third-place Bracket A vs. Third-place Bracket B, 12:30 p.m.
Second-place Bracket A vs. Second-place Bracket B, 3:30 p.m.
Championship game, 6:30 p.m.
South Carolina Diamond Invitational
At Blythewood High School
Dorman vs. Belton-Honea Path, noon
Summerville vs. White Knoll, 2:30 p.m.
Carolina Forest vs. Lexington, 5 p.m.
J.L. Mann vs. Blythewood, 7:30 p.m.
White Knoll vs. Dorman, noon
Belton-Honea Path vs. Summerville, 2:30 p.m.
Blythewood vs. Carolina Forest, 5 p.m.
Lexington vs. J.L. Mann, 7:30 p.m.
J.L. Mann vs. Carolina Forest, 8:30 a.m.
Dorman vs. Summerville, 11 a.m.
Belton-Honea Path vs. White Knoll, 1:30 p.m.
Home run derby and base running competition, 4 p.m.
Lexington vs. Blythewood, 5:30 p.m.
Fourth-place game, 8 p.m.
Third-place game, 10 a.m.
Consolation game, 12:30 p.m.
Championship, 3 p.m.